|Issue #||Release Date: 5/2/12||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
EARTH 2 #1
THE FURRY TRAP HC OGN
ACTION COMICS #9
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #516
DIAL H #1
WORLD’S FINEST #1
EARTH 2 #1
EARTH 2 #1Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Nicola Scott (pencils) & Trevor Scott (inks)
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“Looking back on that day five years ago, I wonder if they knew, maybe deep down in their hearts...if they sensed it. After all their amazing exploits...after all they'd done so far...if Superman...Wonder Woman...Batman, of course...if they knew that here in ravaged Metropolis would be their last adventure.” - Alan Scott
Longtime readers of my words both on my blog and on AICN know that I've been very outspoken in my disappointment at the way the DCU reboot was handled. The characters of DC's “Earth 2” (the golden age heroes) almost always get the shaft when DC does a continuity wipe or rewrite. And it appeared like they had once again gotten screwed by the slapdash manner in which the linewide reboot happened.
However, I have to say, I take back every single negative thing I ever said about this new EARTH 2 book in the lead-up to its release last week. Encapsulated in this single comic book are steps that nearly take full advantage of the freedom that a reboot really provides. This approach is bold, takes chances, makes real and substantive changes, and does it all with a sense of a real cohesive vision. I am sure that it helps to have it basically limited to a single title (with a side connection to WORLDS' FINEST) rather than 51 other continuity titles.
James Robinson's writing has no groaner moments or wasted scenes. He packed this single issue with everything we need to know to set up the world, the differences, and the future. Nicola Scott knocked this out of the park with her art. She has leapt immediately up to the top tier of my favorite artists working today. Watch out Amanda Conner, George Perez, and Ivan Reis. You've got competition.
Here's the background we get from EARTH 2 #1: This Earth has not experienced a glut of super-heroes like the regular DCU over the years since Superman appeared. In the flashback sequence of 5 years ago, we have an older Superman (with adult cousin Supergirl) along with an older Batman (with adult daughter, Robin) and a Wonder Woman who has also obviously been around for awhile. They are the trinity of heroes of this Earth. Without the rest of what would become the Justice League on our Earth, they are overcome by the attack by the hordes of Parademons (presumably sent by this world's version of Darkseid). The heroes are killed, but Batman's sacrifice also saves the Earth from total destruction and defeats the Parademons. Supergirl and Robin chase a figure through a boomtube and wind up stranded on Earth 1 and their story continues in WORLDS' FINEST.
Cut to present-day. A world without super-heroes, but with a collective memory of that tragic day. It is a world-wide tragic moment for the entire world. Set up for the future. Robinson introduced Al Pratt and Jim Harper as soldiers during the 5-years-ago flashback. The stage is set for new versions of Earth 2's Atom and Guardian. In the present-day, Robinson introduces us to young, rich broadcaster Alan Scott and even younger Jay Garrick – struggling to find purpose and direction until he comes face to face with the Roman god, Mercury.
On to the next issue.
What I love about the approach here is that Robinson is approaching EARTH 2 as if the types of events that happen(ed) on Earth 1 simply don't happen quite as often or as easily. So, without random science experiments and accidents, how do you get a group of heroes who can equal Earth 1's Justice League and beyond? Robinson appears to be making the new EARTH 2 heroes essentially avatars (or power-receivers) of the Roman Gods. The Flash of Earth 2 is gaining his powers from Mercury. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect the Green Lantern will be receiving his powers from Jupiter, Vulcan, or one of the other gods and so on.
When Grant Morrison took on the JUSTICE LEAGUE comic years ago, he specifically set up the characters as Earthly counterparts of the Greek pantheon. Here, it appears from dialogue between Mercury and Wonder Woman that Robinson is going so far as to making our new heroes, inspired by the self-sacrifice of the original Trinity of heroes, literally the Roman pantheon on Earth: heroes powered by the gods rather than scientific mumbo-jumbo.
I honestly can't find anything to criticize here. It all was simply brilliant, flowed perfectly, intrigued me and hooked me instantly.
EARTH 2 is everything “The New 52” should be.
Prof. Challenger is Texas artist and writer, Keith Howell. You can read his stuff here and over at profchallenger.com. You can also get in on the ground floor of his new endeavor, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Comic Books", here.
THE FURRY TRAP HC OGNWriter: Josh Simmons
Art: Josh Simmons
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
For those of you who like to embrace their more depraved side, I submit to you THE FURRY TRAP for your perusal. Very much steeped in the horror genre, but carving out its own demented little niche in hell, is this graphic novel, hardbound and worth a space on your bookshelf. That is…if you have a taste for the deranged.
I don’t mean to harp on the fact, but this book will not be for everyone. Though it is most assuredly horror, it is the sheer sickness of the stuff that goes on in this book that makes it so. Simpson is tapping into some primal terrors here, making huge leaps in logic in his stories to reflect stories centering on unwell minds, deviant behavior, and taboo subject matter. This series of short comic book tales is sure to offend the weak at heart and easily excitable. As with some of the best horror, THE FURRY TRAP curb-stomps all expectations, zigs when zags are expected, and taps into areas some are just too uncomfortable to talk about.
Be it one page masterpieces of flaming cows floating in water or full fledged stories that delve into dark corners most aren’t comfortable in, Simmons is without a doubt a unique voice. At times, as with his short “The Land of Magic”, which begins with a fantastically sweet trip through fairyland and ends with an elf graphically raping the corpse of an evil wizard, or “Mark of the Bat” which shows a much more pitiful version of Batman, Simmons’ stories display a twisted sense of maniacal humor. “Asshole Roomate” is another story that had me rolling from the get go. Then again, the stories without humor such as “Christmas Eve”, which highlights a family of oblivious souls who don’t know when they are hurting innocent things such as a little kitty cat, and “Cockbone” which is a surreal trip involving incest and Cronenbergian body horror, were the ones that resonate the most. Sans humor, some of these stories are both undeniably brave and certifiably sick all at once. All of these stories involve Simmons’ firm grasp of the surreal, but perhaps the most extreme is “Jesus Christ”, about a giant centaur fire-being rampaging through a city like Godzilla, then first vomiting up flames, then a sword to wreak more havoc on the tiny city below.
Though some (I’m looking at you, Garth Ennis) may use rape, violence, and gore to amp up the shock value of the story, I don’t think that’s where Simmons is coming from. Here, Simmons seems to be tapping into something surreal and primal—something that most folks only dream and nightmare about, but are afraid to tell others or put it down for the world to see. Is he an artist unafraid to go to places most shy away from or one who is brave enough to write about taboo subject matter or just twisted and in need of serious psychological help? Most likely all three, and I respect the man for it. There’s some sick shit happening in this hardcover and if you’re brave enough, you’ll crack THE FURRY TRAP open and enjoy the stories free of restraint and convention, yet teeming with unbridled creativity and absolute insanity.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.
ACTION COMICS #9Writers: Grant Morrison & Scholly Fisch
Artists: Gene Ha & Cully Hamner
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
While EARTH 2 and WORLD’S FINEST stole most of the alternate reality press last week, DC and Grant Morrison added some delicious biscuit wheels to this ELSEWORLDSesque gravy train with ACTION #9.
I won’t call this the best ACTION to date…wait a minute…you know what, I’m an alternate reality whore and a Grant Morrison zealot when he’s truly on, and both collided in perfect harmony in this look at the Nubian-centered Earth 23. So yes, I will call this best ACTION to date.
No, that’s not Barack Obama on the cover. It’s Calvin Ellis, President of the Unites States of America and Earth 23’s Superman. Morrison dives into a slew of concepts in this issue, each one building and improving the prior.
The trouble on Earth 23 starts as most trouble does for SUPERMAN: with the one and only Lex Luthor. In what seems like a traditional capture and grab, Ellis stumbles upon a secret lair where Luthor is building a bridge to the multiverse. The time with Luthor is short before Johnny Law drags him away, but in those brief moments Morrison builds palatable character development that most writers can’t pull off in an entire story arc. This guy is crazy, quite possibly a racist (never a good move, but it’s an even worse move in a world where you’re the minority) and gets his scientific insight from taking some very good “trips.”
Once the lair is discovered, the real fun begins; Luthor’s Prius of inter-dimensional travel, working off the very fuel-efficient concepts of harmonics and sound, brings forth a crispy Jimmy and Clark and a very Silver Age Lois damsel in distress. They come from a world where mind is greater than matter – literally. In their world, they create a device that can turn thought to reality. The three concoct a Superman of the purest virtue; sadly, things become corrupt quickly. Their technology gets glommed up by a national conglomerate that allows for the collective thoughts of man to mold Superman. Here’s the thing about people en masse – they suck, and ultimately this global concoction of Superman becomes a construct of mob mentality: a purveyor of peace hell-bent on delivering that mandate at any price.
Of course, Ellis stops the threat, and if I’m not reading too much into things, he offers Lois a home on this Earth that has friends…and one friend in particular with benefits (wink wink nudge nudge).
Morrison isn’t the first to come up with the public consciousness molding reality; that’s exactly what Mike Carey is doing in UNWRITTEN right now--Morrison just gave it a scientific catalyst. Speaking of science, Brainiac also makes an appearance in this issue. Basically, Brainey runs the government when Ellis is off being SUPERMAN. It’s an interesting twist opposed to the regular standard of Brainiac as a villain.
The back-up story by Fisch and Hamner rounds out the issue perfectly, giving us a feel for the global dynamics of Earth 23 and deeper insight into how Ellis juggles being President and SUPERMAN. When Ellis uses his powers as Superman to thwart the nuclear ambitions of a middle-eastern dictator, Wonder Woman decides to remind him of a little document called the Constitution he might want to check out some time.
My only gripe with this issue, and Earth 23 as a whole, is that Ellis takes the lazy way out in hiding his identity. Hey, we all know Clark ripping off his glasses is a bullshit disguise, but guys like Morrison have taken that half-hearted attempt and expanded upon it by having Clark change his stance, gait and even his voice as the years progressed. Ellis does nothing, except change his clothes. This leads me to one of two conclusions: one, Morrison is playing off a racial stereotype that I won’t touch with a Kryptonian pole, or two, the people of this world are really really dumb. In either case it took me out of the story for a minute, so that’s a swing and a miss in what was otherwise an amazing issue.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #516Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Dean
I’ve had a pretty apathetic relationship with IRON MAN ever since Extremis, which, to be frank, I consider one of the more overrated stories of the past ten years. Usually, I’m not one to get all up-in-arms over changes to, or evolutions of, characters but Iron Man’s gone through a lot since 2005, and I’ve just never really connected with any of the adjustments or developments. I’ve jumped in and out of Fraction’s run, often enjoying it, but rarely being hooked to the point that I just couldn’t wait for the next one. That being said, after INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #516, I can’t wait for the next one!
This issue kicks off the new “Long Way Down” arc, but empirical evidence proves that “part one” does not always make for an easy jumping on point. Marvel generally does a good job getting readers up to speed with their “previously…” preludes, but they don’t always tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of a story, and while that’s still the case here, I wouldn’t think new readers will lose any enjoyment with this one, as it tends to feel more in media res than “what the hell did I miss?” The familiar names of Stane, Hammer, and the Crimson Dynamo are all here, helping to ease Marvel’s film fan base into their ink and paper world (even if the sexes or generations are a bit different), but it’s certainly no attempt to pander to the new Avengers movie crowd (of whom I hope many ventured into their local shops this weekend), and with any luck, it’ll even get them to take a look at past issues to fill what gaps exist. Otherwise, Tony Stark is every bit the brash decision maker I enjoy reading about, and I’m genuinely excited to see how Stark’s “effective immediately” notice on this issue’s final page will hold up, especially once the Mandarin gets his hands on a death machine that makes it through initial testing.
For the most part, I’m enjoying Salvador Larroca’s art on the series. The action is usually both dynamic and clear, while maintaining the great level of detail that the Iron Man suit and 95% of his rogues gallery demands (they all pale in comparison to the New52’s Superman, though. Cheap shot, I know). What irks me about Larroca are the faces he draws – all of them are remarkably static compared to the rest of his art. I may very well be wrong, but it seems as though his faces rely too heavily on models, because while they capture the emotions needed for the panel, they come off as though they were pasted from headshots in any wannabe actor’s portfolio. Strangely enough, and perhaps serving as evidence to my theory, his Iron Man faces are much more emotive than his Tony Stark faces. It’s almost reminiscent of Gene Colan’s work with the amount of expression he can get into that iron mask, except Gene could do human faces, too.
But despite some stale faces, there’s no reason yours shouldn’t be buried in this issue. I’ve been interested in Fraction’s run on the series before, but seldom to this degree, and almost never with this level of anticipation for what Fraction has planned for Tony Stark’s long term future, in or out of the suit. With an angry and assembled cast of villains stacked up against him, and a spy thrown in for extra intrigue, Fraction has INVINCIBLE IRON MAN headed for an arc that you probably don’t want to miss.
DIAL H #1Writer: China Miéville
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Oddly enough, I feel like it apt to start off this review talking about Grant Morrison. More to the point, I’d motion that if there were a comic writer to compare novelist China Miéville to, there it would be. While I am significantly more versed in Morrison’s body of work than Miéville’s, it does not take much exposure to either to know they both are writers that always vie for the high concept, have a little more than a penchant for the surreal, and occasionally make you wonder if you are on a bad acid trip or if they were when they put pen to paper. Not that there is anything wrong with the occasional exercise in mind expanding works, but there is a fine line between expansive and unreadable. Also, let us not kid ourselves that it is just coincidence that this spanking new #1 is adorned with Brian Bolland’s handiwork, as many a Morrison issue was during his US splash a couple decades back.
DIAL H, thankfully, seems to be like a spring roll ratio of reasonably straight-forward plot and character on the outside with a little bit of bugfuck insanity in the middle to bring it all together. Yeah, there’s some goddamned crazy stuff in here, but I think it really enhances the generally half-baked idea the Hero Dial kind of is. So, to the meat of the issue, this take on the Hero Dial involves about as much of the epitome of “everyday schlub” as you can get in Nelson Jent. Thirtyish, overweight, smokes too much, eats like crap, just lost his job and girl, etc. The only thing holding him together, or trying to at least, would be his best friend Darren Hirsch, who doesn’t exactly have his shit together either given the kind of shady individuals he apparently has a working relationship with. One altercation between Darren and this rather vicious assortment of trumped up punks and Nelson finds himself frantically using a rotary dial phone booth calling for help. And what he finds is…Boy Chimney!
Seriously. Fucking Boy Chimney. Gangly, charcoal black striped suit, stovetop pipe top hat that is just that and 100% what the fuck, my reaction and the reaction of many I imagine upon first viewing of this creation. And I’m sold. There’s another Hero Dial manifestation even later in the issue, Captain Lachrymose, and I kind of think this is where we need to be with a book like this. You get a writer like Miéville, he keeps the underlying plots and character interactions simple yet interesting – and with some solidly clever back and forth dialogue to boot – and let him release that bugfuckery with a classic DC plot device to keep the reader on their toes. I think we have something here.
While I was decently acquainted with Miéville’s work going into DIAL H, I honestly had none of the above with Mateus Santolouco’s. Like the competent mix of plot and crazy that the writing portrays, Santolouco’s art compliments both aspects very well. His characters are pretty expressive while the art has a bit of harshness to it. Basically, some scraggily lines here, a bit of elongation there, and the occasional bit of twisted panel design while Boy Chimney is being, uhm, Chimney-y. I dunno. I definitely focused way too much on the craziness of the Dial creations on first read, but after another perusing I think this book has some really good potential between the characters we’ve seen so far, some shady characters with unknown machinations we catch glimpses of, and some very expressive writing and art. It might be an unusual conversation at times but DIAL H is, for the time being at least, a call worth taking.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
ELDRITCH! #5Writer: Aaron Alexovich
Artist: Drew Rausch
Cthulhu seems to be in the ether right now. Guillermo del Toro has recently bemoaned the fact that Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS may steal the thunder from his own project, AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. There is a film currently in theaters, that for reasons unbeknownst to me I will not spoil, but for those who do know what movie I am talking about you get my point about there seems to be all sorts of love for Lovecraft.
But the silver screen holds no monopoly on the Ancient Ones. The series ELDRITCH! has been snaring readers in with promises of knowledge and power before stripping their skins for pages and draining their blood for ink…or so they say.
“They” being artist Drew Rausch and writer Aaron Alexovich. I was lucky enough to catch up with the dark duo at WonderCon and have now included our interview along with a review of their newest issue!
“SCREAMS IN THE POOL-HOUSE” brings us back to Anya who (depending on your point of view) is in the running for most annoying older sister ever. Why can’t she just leave Owen and his friends alone to worship Arkaan, convert into monsters, and have mankind crumble at their feet? I guess you’ve gotta give credit to Anya for looking out for her little bro, but it turns out that she is the one in need of protection from Chaston and his followers.
Chaston is a great foil to Anya. Both are strong in their convictions, whether it be science or “the Mysteries of the Mad Arkaan and the 69 Precepts of Disarrah.” Anya believes in the brevity of wit, while Chaston prefers grandiose monologues. What they do share is their condescension towards Owen. Yes, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s talk down to the dude who when cut oozes black goo and tentacles!
As with any issue including Chaston there are numerous speeches to be had, but at least the blood begins to fly as much as the words. In this issue we finally get to see Drew Rausch draw us some crazy monsters. Nothing too nightmare inducing…yet. I assume the terror will come when the infection is spread on a much grander scale.
But after all of the action in ELDRITCH! #5, I don’t think I could approve of any more “slow burn” approach. It was great up until now, creating a sense of mystery and foreboding. But enough is enough. I don’t want screams in the pool-house; I want them outside, wreaking havoc on suburbia!
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.
WORLD’S FINEST #1Writer: Paul LevitzArt: George Perez & Kevin Maguire
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
It’s a departure from the others, but I didn’t much care for EARTH-2. I thought it was horribly clichéd at times, and melodramatic (particularly the deaths of the heroes) at others. I may pick up the next one, but I honestly don’t expect much. It never interested me terribly in the first place, except as a springboard for WORLD’S FINEST.
Paul Levitz on script and George Perez on art are an ideal team, and them giving Huntress and Power Girl a chance to shine is especially gratifying. The issue itself, however, is slightly slow. It’s not bad, per se; it’s just a very typical first issue. It spends a good deal of time summarizing the characters in caption, which gives a good summary of the characters but fails to show them off in any real fashion. The characters are fairly one note, but there are hints at depth.
Perez is your typical Perez (so, stunning), but at times feels tired. Certain panels near the beginning just aren’t all that unique, but when Perez tries to impress, he makes it seem effortless. The final few pages of the issue are remarkable looking. Kevin Maguire takes on some of the issue, and his work is likewise extremely entertaining. The art is bright and full of personality, which is only complimented by the bright work done by the color team.
Essentially, it’s an enjoyable enough first issue. It doesn’t really shock and/or awe, but it’s a good introduction into the duo, and could easily lead into something more.
PRINCELESS #1-4Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: M. Goodwin
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Do you have a daughter? Do you love her? Well, before her love of Disney princesses transforms into using your credit card to purchase Krapdashian clothing and she subscribes to the #Thinspo group on Pinterest, get her a copy of PRINCELESS.
The gang at Action Lab has taken feminism out of the hands of the militants like Gloria Steinem, and the trite like whoever the asshole was that invented the phrase “Girrrllll Power,” to deliver a tale of empowerment that is as entertaining as it is inspirational.
Charming, fun and irreverent: these were my feelings after two pages into PRINCELESS. After completing the first arc, I sat and wondered why only one issue and not the entire series is being considered for an Eisner award. Goodwin’s art is gorgeous caricature work and not one trope of comics or fairytales remains unscathed from Whitley’s sharp dialogue.
PRINCELESS starts as expected for a fairy tale; a fair-skinned, flaxen-haired princess is locked away in a tower guarded by a fierce dragon, hoping and pining for a prince to save her. And that’s the end of what’s expected. This cutesy tale is being told to a six year old Princess Adrienne, a girl with sass out the wazoo and an unwavering adherence to logic. “Why would the Princess be locked in a tower? Towers cost a lot to make!” “Why would her parents pick a dragon to protect her, when dragons are so expensive and almost impossible to train?” “Why do all princesses have to be white with blonde hair?” “Why does a Princess need to be saved at all?” Unbeknownst to this young moppet is that she’s not being read this story as a parable, but rather an actual instruction manual for her sixteenth birthday.
Flash forward and Adrienne’s father has indeed locked her in a tower, along with her seven sisters. King Asshole, as I affectionately came to dub him, believes women can’t rule and neither can his one and only effeminate son. Putting the girls in a tower, guarded by the fiercest of dragons, will ensure that anyone who saves his daughters will have the mettle to one day rule the kingdom, because we all know that the first principle of people and economic management is being able to stab something.
Adrienne, of course, is a special case: the dragon that guards her very low to the ground tower is more kitty cat than tiger. Adrienne’s father really just wants her off his hands.
Well, he gets his wish. After some hilarious failed rescue attempts, Adrienne realizes that waiting for anyone to save her is ridiculous, so she decides to befriend the dragon, climb down the one story tower and become a hero of her own making on an adventure to get her seven sisters.
When I’m enamored with a book, I tend to give too much away. Even though I read these four issues a week ago the jokes were so crisp, and the satire so relevant, I could recount every single quip and story beat from memory. I won’t, though. Suffice to say, Adrienne begins a grand adventure that kept me equally amused as it did riveted for what comes next. OK, I’ll give away one part. Taking a direct shot at the scantily clad nature of female costumes in comics, Adrienne rips apart the impracticality of “armor” from Wonder Woman to Xena, Warrior Princess. Her descriptions and the flaws of each armor set are worth reading all by themselves, especially for longtime comic fans.
We need more books like PRINCELESS--stories that take the Pixar approach of engaging entertainment for all ages. Kids will love this book for the Dragon and Adrienne. Mom and Dad will love PRINCELESS for the slew of double-entendres. I loved this book for those reasons and the fact it spoke directly to the often ignored female and child contingents of comics. If this hobby is going to grow out of its current stagnation, we need every creator to craft a book like PRINCELESS at least once in their lives.
EARTH 2 #1Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Publisher: DC Comics
I tried to give DC the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to find something to like in the company’s not-quite-a-reboot of its comic book universe. But even with a few glimmers of halfway-enjoyable issues, I wound up HATING the New 52. Any and all DC titles dropped from my pull list as I slowly became resigned to the fact that the characters that I had loved since childhood, the first comic book heroes that I learned how to draw once I could hold a pencil in my hands, and the company that had done the near-impossible and pulled me back into the medium my senior year in high school, were now as good as dead to me. But there was still one tiny glimmer on the horizon that tugged insistently at my brain, that seemed to whisper a promise of delivering again what those colorfully-clad characters once meant. That glimmer was EARTH 2.
See, I have a deep (and probably unhealthy) love of those classic DC characters from what is now known as The Golden Age. There’s just something magical about the original Green Lantern and the Flash, about Dr. Fate and the Spectre and all their contemporaries that stands them apart from modern comic book heroes. Part of their appeal no doubt lies in the fact that these characters are a link to an era long past, a sort of a four-color time machine back to the days of the 1930s and ‘40s…a time when good Americans bought war bonds and saved scrap iron and men always wore hats. Another more basic part of their appeal is simply due to their outrageously outlandish costumes—you mean your name is “Green Lantern” and the only green things on your costume are the lining of your cape and your pants? My fascination with these Golden Agers kept me tethered to DC through their varied iterations of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron right up until the convoluted mess that was the INFINITE CRISIS clusterfuck. The JSA titles degenerated into unreadable puerile storytelling, and my tether finally snapped.
What makes these Golden Age characters so interesting is ultimately also what makes them so turgid. When their stories and motivations are so inexorably tied to the past, it’s hard to find a way to make them relevant in the present—especially when younger versions of many of these superheroes are doing the same job every month on the comic stands. The Justice Society, the All-Star Squadron…they seemed doomed to obsolescence no matter how hard each new writer tried to bring them up to date. Until…EARTH 2.
With the neatest, simplest twist, James Robinson has given me hope that the Golden Age characters will finally be granted a truly new story, unfettered by their WWII-era roots. Five years ago on this alternate Earth Darkseid’s Parademons invaded, much as they did in the first story arc of the New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE. Unlike the events in that comic, however, the victory over the alien invasion came at the price of the lives of the planet’s greatest heroes. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman perish in their victory—
(Just a quick aside, but I have to point out that the new costumes for the Trinity shown in this issue are SO MUCH BETTER than the clunky, overly noodly Jim Lee designs that were done for the reboot! Why oh why couldn’t these simple yet elegant tweaks have been the official new looks instead?)
—over the Parademons, saving the world, yet leaving the Earth bereft of heroes. Yet the seeds have been planted, as the reader meets Gotham Broadcasting Co. CEO Alan Scott, Army Sergeant Al Pratt and directionless college grad Jay Garrick, and anyone with an iota of knowledge of the DC Universe knows what their fates will be. Or at least, knows VAGUELY what might happen…‘cause this parallel planet sure isn’t the same as the history I know, seeing as how the new Flash’s powers look to be coming from a divine origin rather than the pseudo-science of “hard water fumes.”
That’s the real beauty of what Robinson is doing here; by turning the JSA from the Founding Fathers of the superhero world into the Next Generation of costumed protectors, he’s completely severed those pesky strings that bound the Golden Age to their time of origin. For the first time in fifty years, the Justice Society has the potential to be something new rather than nostalgic, and this Golden Age fan can’t wait to see that promise fulfilled.
So, no, I’m still not a fan of the whole New 52 thing…but EARTH 2 might turn out to be the real jumping-on point for old-time DC readers like me…as long as they keep Jim Lee away from the costume designs.
When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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